AFL previews for round 17
SAINTS V BOMBERS
At Etihad Stadium, 7.50pm
Recent record: StK 5 Ess 5
Last time: R16 2016: StK 17.7 (109) d Ess 14.14 (98) at Docklands
THE Saints (9-6) are on the march again, registering a fourth successive win - and arguably their best this season in trouncing fellow top-four contender Richmond. They now have the opportunity to further push their claims taking on an inconsistent Essendon (7-8). The Saints are looking to post their fourth-straight victory against the Bombers for the first time since 1971. Jack Steven (41 disposals) was the catalyst last time, while ex-Bomber Jake Carlisle will have a huge role to play this week on former teammate Joe Daniher.
CATS V HAWKS
At the MCG, 1.45pm
Recent record: Geel 6 Haw 4
Last time: R4 2017: Geel 20.14 (134) d Hawthorn 6.12 (48) at the MCG
ONE of the great modern-day rivalries continues with old Geelong boy Luke Hodge to play his 300th game for Hawthorn. The Hawks (6-8-1) will surely rise to the occasion, but whether they have enough class to prevent a fourth-straight loss to the Cats (10-4-1) remains to be seen. What's certain is the margin will be a lot closer than the 86 points that separated them last time. The midfield battle will be titanic with Paddy Dangerfield taking on Tom Mitchell, who has become the first player to collect 30 or more touches in 12 successive games.
POWER V ROOS
At Adelaide Oval, 2.10pm (AEST)
Recent record: NM 6 Port 4
Last time: R17 2016: Port 16.9 (105) d NM 10.17 (77) at Docklands
PORT (9-6) will aim to consolidate its spot in the top four after its crucial win in the west over the Eagles. The Power hosts the Roos (4-11), who have now lost their past five games, following that heart-breaker to Freo, and have not won at the Adelaide Oval in four attempts. Big Charlie Dixon looms large for the hosts after his five-goal haul last week, and will present Roos fullback Robbie Tarrant with a huge task.
SUNS V MAGPIES
At Metricon Stadium, 4.35pm
Recent record: GC 2 Coll 5
Last time: R22 2016: Coll 16.22 (118) d GC 6.11 (47) at Docklands
WHILE the pressure on one coach may be eased (slightly), the heat on the other will rise exponentially. Nathan Buckley and Rodney Eade are the two coaches most in the gun with their teams 15th (at 5-10) and 14th (6-9), respectively. Amazingly, they are ranked first and second for disposals, but clearly don't do enough with possession. The Suns must be favoured at home, especially if Gary Ablett (hamstring) can get up, but the Pies did crush them last time with 12 goals to one in the first half, Adam Treloar (38 touches) running rampant.
GIANTS V SWANS
At Spotless Stadium, 7.25pm
Recent record: GWS 4 Syd 6
Last time: R5 2017: GWS 15.15 (105) d Syd 9.9 (63) at the SCG
SYDNEY (8-7) has stormed into the top eight on the back of eight wins from nine games. And now the Swans have their "little brother" in their sights. GWS (10-3-2), coming off back-to-back draws, has won the past three Battles of the Bridge. Lance Franklin might need his kicking boots on after slotting 11.19 in the past five weeks. Up the other end, Jon Patton (14.5 in four weeks) is red hot and may have dangerous pair Toby Greene and Steve Johnson back for support in attack.
DEMONS V CROWS
At TIO Stadium, 7.40pm (AEST)
Recent record: Melb 4 Adel 6
Last time: R8 2017: Melb 17.5 (107) d Adel 9.12 (66) in Adelaide
ADELAIDE (11-4) is back as deserved ladder leader after thumping the Dogs. And it must be favoured to turn the tables on Melbourne (9-6), which shocked it in Adelaide earlier this year. The Dees will be no pushover but may really miss co-captains and hard nuts Jack Viney and Nathan Jones this week against the league's No.1 side for contested possessions. Viney was best-afield last time. Crows power forwards Taylor Walker and Josh Jenkins (seven goals combined last week) also look threatening.
TIGERS V LIONS
At Etihad Stadium, 1.10pm
Recent record: Rich 10 Bris 0
Last time: R4 2017: Rich 17.17 (119) d Bris 10.7 (67) at the Gabba
RICHMOND (9-6) is coming off its worst display of the year - trailing St Kilda by 82 points at one stage in the first half - but the Tigers will look ahead with confidence, taking on a side they haven't lost to since 2009, wining their past 10 clashes. Dayne Zorko (36 touches, four goals) put in one of the great Brisbane displays last week, but the Lions (3-12) struggled, losing to Geelong by 85. They're better than that.
BLUES V BULLDOGS
At the MCG, 3.20pm
Recent record: Carlton 5 WB 5
Last time: R4 2016: WB 13.7 (85) d Carlton 7.7 (49) at Docklands
THE reigning premiers (7-8) have now lost six of their past eight, but can try to salvage their season in the next month with games against Carlton, Gold Coast (away), Essendon and Brisbane (away). They should beat the Blues (5-10), who have been gallant but are now missing one of their prime ball winners in Patrick Cripps (fractured fibula). The Bulldogs are searching for three consecutive wins over the Blues for the first time since 2006.
DOCKERS V EAGLES
At Domain Stadium, 4.40pm (AEST)
Recent record: Frem 6 WC 4
Last time: R6 2017: WC 16.7 (103) d Frem 9.8 (62) in Perth
WEST Coast (8-7) has slipped out of the eight after suffering a third defeat from four games on home soil. Freo (7-8), with its season on the line too and with skipper Nat Fyfe (33 disposals) showing glimpses of his best in the win over North, would love to kick the Eagles while they're down. The Eagles have won the past four derbies, however, and should regain spearhead Josh Kennedy (calf), who's booted 13 goals in the past two clashes.